04 Apr Love Your Midcentury Modern Home Even More
Sarasota is famous for the Midcentury Modern design. At LaMaison Homes, we thrive on remodeling and updating Midcentury Modern properties, while maintaining the esthetics and structural integrity of the original design. One of the main reasons midcentury modern homes fell out of fashion in the 1970s was that their thermal performance was so poor. Midcentury modern design was ahead of its time in aesthetics, but it also turned out to be beyond the technical performance of the materials available to designers and home builders. The spike in energy prices in the mid-1970s was a knockout punch, making these homes so expensive to heat and cool that homeowners had the difficult trade-off of paying exorbitant utility bills or stocking up on sweaters in the winter.
Aside from the heating and cooling costs, the homes tend to be uncomfortable because of drafty walls and windows and cold pockets due to inadequate mechanical systems. Here are some tips to improve the comfort of your midcentury modern home without losing any of the design vibe.
Extensive glass areas are a key feature of midcentury modern homes, providing sunlit interiors and a powerful connection between inside and out. All of this glass comes at a cost, however, adding dramatically to the heating and cooling loads. This is magnified when the glass areas are oriented to the north, away from the sun, offering only thermal loss in the winter, or oriented west, leading to excessive heating by the setting sun in the summer. Add to this the fact that many homes from the era still retain the original single-pane windows.
Upgrade Your Windows for Beauty, Comfort and Big Energy Savings
Window tech has come a long way, with double or triple glazing readily available with argon gas, achieving much improved insulation. To prevent heat gain, glass coatings called “low-e” have been developed to prevent the sun’s radiant heat from penetrating the glass.
The window frame is also important, as is having a good thermal break between inside and out. The original metal windows of midcentury modern houses have crisp sightlines and slim profiles. A few companies are now offering thermally broken steel windows that offer minimal sightlines and good thermal performance.
Energy-Efficient Windows: Understand the Parts
Insulate for Comfort
One of the beauties of midcentury modern homes was the modernist idea of exposing the home’s structural posts and beams. This was a refreshing change from traditional house design that covered the structure with wallboard and trim. While attractive, exposing the structural members precludes using the space between the beams for insulation.
Exposed rafter ceilings. Exposed rafters are a key component of many midcentury modern designs. In order to preserve the beauty of this design feature, insulation needs to be added above the ceiling.
A great approach is to use rigid foam board along with an air barrier above the ceiling. The interior appearance is not compromised, and a high level of insulation is achieved. This approach also solves a problem seen in snowy regions, where heat can escape through the roof, unevenly melting the snow and causing ice dams.
When structural posts are exposed, the main challenge is preventing air seepage where the posts meet the walls. New spray foam products are highly effective in addressing this. Closed-cell spray foam can seal the air gap between the post and wall, along with filling the cavity between posts.
Own a Mid Century Modern in Sarasota? Call La Maison or email us here for a consultation to ensure you maintain the vibe and integrity of your home. We believe in preserving, restoring and maintaining the essence and charm of the architecture in our local community.